HOW TO CREATIVELY STAGE A MENTAL DISORDER

Dee Elegia (Scotland) is a self-taught photographer currently based in Manchester who mostly works with analogue processes and mixed media. Her artistic path began with her studies in Fine Art and a brief experience in the field of Painting, but it was only in 2011 when the artist discovered her passion for Photography, while working as a model. In fact, in order to feel more comfortable in front of the camera and improve her modeling, Elegia used to take photographs of herself at home and, at that time, she realized that the act of taking self-portraits was both exciting and, above all, therapeutic.

The bulk of her intimate and intense work depicts herself and other women and always reveals a sort of strength, at times loaded with erotic tinges. Recalling her artistic background with Painting, Elegia prefers to deal with the analogue medium because of its tangible and practical nature, choosing to develop her film at home and then print from negatives. In addition, Film Photography gives her the opportunity to experiment with multiple exposures and emulsion lifts.
"Using film it’s a thrilling experience. [...] I’ve used all kinds of natural and ambient light in my work. I never work from studios. In some images my light source will be the bathroom light flowing out from a door in my hotel room and onto the floor, others will be late evening natural light from a window which I have placed myself against. [...] Light is everything in photography and you need to become familiar with it by using your eyes – don’t rely on the equipment all the time".

With particular note to the her self-portraits, Elegia draws inspiration from the environmental that surrounds her, focusing at times on relevant and personal features of her life, such as her personal struggling with body dysmorphia, a mental disorder which affects how you perceive your appearance, creating obsessive and compulsive thoughts, as well as social anxiety and panic attacks. The photographic process is cathartic and liberating and had a huge impact on her life, because the more she improved her skills with the camera, by developing a unique visual language for her self-portraits, the more she gained a feeling of security about her physical look.
"Photography is a way to tackle, manage, study, but also document some of the disorders. [...] Photography kept me outdoors and out meeting new people despite all the anxiety and depression I was fighting with. I still have the same fears and anxieties, but, thanks to photography, I am able to take them on in order to do the things that I want to do".


FOR MORE

www.elegia.co

Dee Elegia, together with a friend, casually bumped into the set of the series Blue Ruin, by finding accommodation in a house dated back to the 1950s, during a trip to the South Coast. Paying great attention to details, the owners of the structure had restored the interior of the house as close as possible to its original design, including the bathroom suite, the furniture, floors and wood paneled walls.

Inspired by the uniqueness of the place, Dee Elegia tried to use the surroundings without revealing too much of the house itself, "choosing to disguise myself also in some of the images using a wig, whilst I played around with some of the objects in the house and the various rooms", eventually creating a surreal collection of smartly composed shots full of vibrant colors and intense feelings.

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